Alcoholism/excessive drinking is a dishonorable practice among the people of the United States. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), "alcohol is typically found in the offender, victim, or both in about half of all homicides and serious assaults, as well as in a high percentage of sex-related crimes, robberies, and incidents of domestic violence." They determine that "13.8 million adult Americans have problems with drinking and that out of this number, 8.1 million are alcoholics."
We are attempting to prevent this by convincing others that drinking irresponsibly can bring much harm to oneself and to society.
However, we are doing this while we are bombarded with the very messages that throw this responsibility that we are to carry right out the window. This conflict begins, for most people, during the high school years, where drinking excessively is a rite of celebration and a pass to get into a very exclusive, "popular" group, and to ensure your stay within it. It is also common to hear of this in other cliques, but overall: When is chugging down half a case of beer, puking and urinating all over yourself, passing out, gradually destroying your liver and millions of brain cells, becoming a violent and stupid beast, and for girls, not being able to defend yourself while some guy or guys force themselves upon you, worth doing to belong to a special group? Listen -- is it really worth the hell to get a glimpse of a pretentious heaven?
Not only do some have to deal with this now, they can possibly go on to tackle a great deal of problems later. This group of people could end up with alcoholism for the rest of their lives. Think about it -- the only way of drinking they know is to consume it in large amounts (to be satisfied), not to drink responsibly, keeping their bodies healthy and minds intact. In the adult world, this is also reinforced by the confounding situations we all notice. Here, we see an obvious amount of recklessness in the offer of free gelatin shots for every touchdown. It goes against the preventive measures created to respect others -- not getting drunk, causing disturbances, and/or getting into a car afterward while intoxicated, which threatens yourself and everyone near you. This local bar is encouraging careless, uncontrollable behavior here -- not the best message for a family-oriented environment.
Why do we tolerate this? Why do we tolerate the sale of alcohol to juveniles, or their parents, who supply it for drinking parties that are busted but no justice is brought onto them? Why do we allow people to stockpile so many DUIs, and then let them keep on driving? What more can we do for policy change and enforcement? Why don't we have more alternatives to show you don't need drinking to make yourself "cool?" Instead, educate them about the real effects of alcohol. This is what we in Youth in Action do -- strive to help make the city of Brainerd better with all that our brains and will can do.
(Sorensen is a Brainerd High School student and a member of Youth in Action.)
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